Notes: Upton gets call to Rays

Notes: Upton gets call to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- B.J. Upton arrived to the Rays clubhouse on Tuesday in advance of his first Major League start since 2004.

The soft-spoken shortstop turned third baseman, said he was excited about getting the call.

"I just wanted to get here," Upton said.

Upton's call up became a necessity when Ty Wigginton broke his left hand on Saturday against the Yankees, but there were questions whether he would get the call because of an article that ran in USA Today on Friday in which Upton, Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes were featured and uncomplimentary things were said about the organization. In addition, an unflattering photo accompanied the story.

Upton has spoken with Joe Maddon, the Rays manager, and Andrew Friedman, the Rays executive vice president of baseball operations. Upton said they talked about the "whole situation."

"I'm not going to really get into detail [about the conversation]," Upton said. "But it was a good conversation and hopefully we got some things ironed out."

Upton hopes to put that episode behind him and move forward. He also hopes fans will realize he's not a bad guy.

"You can ask anybody who knows me, I'm a good guy," Upton said. "I've always been a good guy. Hopefully I can keep that going. Just go out and play hard and try to bring a championship to the area."

Maddon, who rarely shows anything but a happy face, did not mince words following Friday's article. He too wanted to move forward on Tuesday.

"Yeah, I've cooled off somewhat," Maddon said. "I thought about it a lot. I think part of it was talking to [Upton] yesterday morning. That really calmed me down."

Maddon does not want the kind of attitude portrayed in Friday's story to be a part of the organization.

"We can't have that here," Maddon said. "If we're going to be good, that can't be part of us. And I don't care how good [any prospects are], I really don't. In regard to skills, that doesn't matter. We'll be just fine with maybe just a little less skillful, but a good teammate. And that's the message that has to be out there. And I really believe that. And I don't think there's any doubt about that. And that's what we're going to be about."

Upton, 21, batted .269 with 18 doubles, four triples, eight home runs, a team-high 65 walks and 41 RBIs in 106 games with the Triple-A Durham Bulls. He has also collected a league-high 46 stolen bases, tops in the International League and tied for sixth overall in the Minors. The number 2 overall pick in the 2002 draft, Upton became the youngest Ray ever when he joined the club in August 2004 at age 19. He batted .258 in 45 games for the Rays for the remainder of the season with eight doubles, two triples and four home runs.

Major League debut: Ironically, now that Upton has been recalled to the Major Leagues it is as a third baseman rather than as a shortstop, the position where he's played most. In the aftermath of starting shortstop Julio Lugo getting traded to the Dodgers, Ben Zobrist is the Rays' new shortstop and made his Major League debut on Tuesday night.

"I definitely didn't think I would be coming up this soon," Zobrist said. "I was hoping for the opportunity, too. Just being at [Triple-A] Durham was exciting for my wife and I, to move up to Triple-A. Any move to me is exciting."

Zobrist, 25, batted .304 (21-for-69) in 18 games at Durham since he was acquired from Houston on July 12 along with right-handed pitcher Mitch Talbot in exchange for Aubrey Huff and cash. He began the season with Double-A Corpus Christi, leading the team with 25 doubles and six triples in 82 games, and was named a Texas League All-Star.

Zobrist said he won't be taking anything for granted.

"I've always been a guy who tries to take it day by day," Zobrist said. "Do my work every day. I don't feel we're guaranteed tomorrow anyway ... especially at this level. I'm just going to keep working hard and do exactly what got me here. And we'll see how things fall into place."

When asked what got him here, Zobrist replied: "A lot of hard work.

"I definitely think it's a break I think that God used in my life to bring me to a place like this. And it's a good place to be. Where they're building [a young organization] and I'm just happy to be part of it."

This and that: Left-hander Scott Kazmir played catch on Tuesday and reported that everything felt fine in his left shoulder, where he has experienced inflammation of his rotator cuff. He said he could see no reason why he won't be able to come off the disabled list on Aug. 8 and pitch as planned. ... The Rays suspended Dukes indefinitely pending a review of the incident that led to his suspension by the International League last week; Dukes was to be reinstated on Tuesday from a five-day suspension by the International League.

Coming up: The Rays and Tigers will play the third game of a four-game series in a 7:15 p.m. ET contest on Wednesday night at Tropicana Field. Right-hander Tim Corcoran will start for the Rays and will be opposed by right-hander Zach Miner.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.